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Sherry Gail Heim

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An Ode To Harriet
by Sherry Gail Heim
Rated "G" by the Author.
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An Ode To Harriet


Off she slipped into the night

This famous tortoise on her final flight

No need for her shell, nothing to fear

She looked up to the sky and said “I’m outta’ here!”


She did her time, about 176 years

She saw life from Darwin through Y2K Fears

More than just folklore, a living legend was she

There’s a lot to be said for moving slowly, I see


When she first was found, Darwin thought she was male

So Harry they named her, but with her mate she did fail

Then someone discovered her secret so deep

She was a lady, so only with males would she sleep


She spent most of her life in an Australian Zoo

Paying little attention to the crowds passing through

She wandered about in all of her glory

While poets and writers recorded her story


A healthy life she had always enjoyed

Plenty of food, not much to make her annoyed

But on June twenty-third, two thousand and six

She left from this world and moved on to the next


A sad day it was for all who admired this Queen

This Giant Land Tortoise ne’er again to be seen

But she made her mark on the hearts of us all

As she took her last bow and made her last curtain call


Sherry Gail Heim

June 24, 2006

Copyright © Sherry Gail Heim 2006


Sydney Australia (AP) - A 176-year-old tortoise believed to be one of the world's oldest living creatures has died in an Australian zoo.

The giant tortoise, known as Harriet, died at the Queensland-based Australia Zoo owned by "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin and his wife Terri. Irwin said he considered Harriet a member of the family.

"Harriet has been a huge chunk of the Irwin family's life," Irwin said Saturday. "She is possibly one of the oldest living creatures on the planet and her passing today is not only a great loss for the world but a very sad day for my family. She was a grand old lady."

Senior veterinarian Jon Hanger told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Friday that Harriet died of heart failure.

Harriet was long reputed to have been one of three tortoises taken from the Galapagos Islands by Charles Darwin on his historic 1835 voyage aboard the HMS Beagle.

However, historical records, while suggestive, don't prove the claim. And some scientists have cast doubt on the story, with DNA tests confirming Harriet's age but showing she came from an island that Darwin never visited.

According to local legend, Harriet was just five years old and probably no bigger than a dinner plate when she was taken from the Galapagos to Britain.

The tortoise spent a few years in Britain before being moved to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens in Australia's tropical Queensland state in the mid-1800s. There she was mistaken for a male and nicknamed Harry, according to Australia Zoo, which later bought the 330-pound tortoise in 1987.

Harriet was believed to be the world's oldest living tortoise, and one of its oldest living creatures. Despite her longevity, however, Harriet is not the world's oldest known tortoise.

That title was awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records to Tui Malila, a Madagascar radiated tortoise that was presented to the royal family of Tonga by British explorer Captain James Cook in the 1770s. It died in 1965 at the ripe age of 188.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Reviewed by Abdi-Noor Mohamed (Eagle Of Hope)
Beautuflly crafted poem. I deeply appreciate your sympathetic feelings and concerns over this giant tortoise which we all miss.
thanks sherry for sharing this tribute with us
Reviewed by Dawn Richerson
Aw, Sherry. Glad you wrote this. I hadn't heard the news of Harriet's death. It's such a great tribute. I love the originality of everything you write. Take care, Dawn
Reviewed by Bennett
Reviewed by jude forese
it takes alot of skill and insight to write such an outstanding ode to a tortise ... i really enoyed this poem, Sherry!
Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher
Quiet amazing, thank you for sharing this lovely and informative poem, followed by this great article. Can't help but to love stuff like that,
Reviewed by Nordette Adams
I enjoyed this, Sherry. And you show true talent as a writer when you find an uncommon topic and take it to page with skill. :-)
Reviewed by Joseph* OneLight*®
Oh, what stories these creatures could tell. Nice tribute Sherry.

Love & Light,
Reviewed by Lisa Hilbers
All the Greats are dying right before our eyes...Harriet though, has granted many many wonderful memories for thousands of folks, through her lifetime.
You've given her a grand old tribute here Sherry..I know she's lookin' down from turtle heaven..smilin' big!

Reviewed by Paul Williams
Wonderful Ode Sherry, a true living monument to history. Oh! to be a Tortoise.

Reviewed by Andre Bendavi ben-YEHU

A beautiful composition in wit-historical rhythm on logevity and life's harmony with Nature... "An Ode To Harriet" inspires and stimulates environmental responsibilties.

Thank You, Poet for this accompished poetic task delivered with aroma of wisdom.


Andre Emmanuel Bendavi ben-YEHU
Reviewed by Ronald Hull
Ya, but they don't have much fun. She needs a poem, or two. Thanks for honoring her.

Reviewed by Sara Coslett
What a great tribute. And how do I get to live to be 176? Can you imagine? It is like being a time traveler, passing through so many generations and permutations of life on Earth. ~ Sara
Reviewed by Andy Turner (Reader)
WOW is that you on left..My son would think Harriet is a train and mate of Thomas the TANK
Reviewed by William Bonilla
fantastic write Sherry
If only our eyes could've see
what she had seen
All those wonderous memories,
with her death, are now lost like
a tears in the rain.
thanks for sharing

Love & Peace
Reviewed by J M
WOW the notation was awesome on your poem and it was wonderful to0!!!!
Reviewed by Mr. Ed
What a marvelous creature, and what a truly marvelous ode to her, Sherry. And thanks for the additional info at the end.
Reviewed by Arthur Tugman
Sherry, it is a delight to read your poetry.
Reviewed by A PAX
Ohhh yes I heard about her, imagine having such an amazing longevity as a human woman!! My my
Loved your poem Sherry, I would have liked to see her, I have seen one large turtle around here, had legs as long as a husky, and moved quite fast, even hissed when angry!!! So much for the hare story

ty for this
enjoyed........pax A
Reviewed by Kate Burnside
This is most delightful and you have wrought the most excellent tribute, Sherry... I hope you will forward this to the Zoo and to the Irwins for them to treasure - seriously!! I think they would be awed! It makes me feel most peculiar, the thought of what her lifespan has covered... I am only just beginning to get my head round how it must have felt for England to beat Germany in the 1966 World Cup here in Britain, that being only 20 years' after WWII... that's only the span of my daughter's lifetimes and that seems like a snip... However, you have delighted my heart and my mind with this one, thank you!! :)) LOL Kate xx
Reviewed by L. Figgins
One of the few amphibians that have existed from pre-history. One wonders why certain species have survived while others fall in the balance. Could they be a clue to our own survival? WONDERFUL poem, Sherry! And thank you for the history behind her. It's wonders such as this that open our eyes to the miracle of life!
Reviewed by Aberjhani
A great biographical profile of a great Earthling. When one considers such extraordinary wonders as Harriet's 176 years in this world, one is forced to question why we human beings believe our particular whims and political agendas so important that we wage world-destroying wars over them. An exceptional write on every level. Thank you.
Reviewed by Peter Paton
Harriet was a living monument to the old adage " Too much hurry....makes curry "....:)
Slow and steady wins the race..
And Harriet was a born winner...God Bless Her !
Thanks for sharing
Stay well
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes
Beautiful Tribute !!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by George Carroll
You pen a beautiful tribute to Harriet in both style and rhyme. And yes there is some thing to be said about moving slow as long as I'm not behind them. LOL
Reviewed by E T Waldron
Sherry thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. I hadn't heard of it. Your poem is outstanding. Beautifully captured
Harriet's unique life! I think they are fascinating, creatures,
sad when we have to lose one. Good to read you again, miss your writes!!!

Reviewed by Regis Auffray
I did not know about this "queen" but I am glad you told me about her, Sherry. And this is a great tribute and a gift well-shared. Thank you. Love and peace to you,

Reviewed by Ed Matlack
Who cares her age,
she did have wisdom & sage,
She lent friendship to a families page,
Though its a shame she had to live,
Most of her life ostensibly behind a cage...ed & rufuz
Reviewed by Crystal Silver Angel (Reader)
Sherry, this is so profoundly touching..It comforts me to know I believe in the after life, that our beloved pets will be there too!God bless you!!

Peace & Love, Dove
Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
Well, drat!
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